If interested, one source of Burgen's collected works that I can highly recommend is Volume One of the series, Unholy Hands on the Bible, which contains the following works of Burgon:
The Traditional Text of the New Testament
The Causes of Corruption of the Holy Gospels
The Last Twelve Verses of the Gospel of Mark
The Revision Revised
GOD Manifested in the Flesh
The Woman Taken in Adultery
The Secret Spanking of Westcott and Hort
Conflation and the "Neutral" Text
A comparison of Burgon to the likes of Metzger and Robertson (advocates of higher-criticism) can be instructive. For my part, although I am not nearly as widely read on the issue of textual criticism as others are, I have yet to hear or read any argument for retaining the higher-critical method, whether from Robertson, Metzger or anyone else, that is as powerful as Burgon's arguments for not doing so to begin with. I am deeply suspicious of modern writers who casually dismiss the danger of higher critical theories and their modern descendents, especially given that it has been rejected in practically every field except Biblical studies (literary and historical sciences, for example, generally reject it after empirical evidence has shown that it is unreliable). But my advice is for people to read the material firsthand, rather than accept reports about it from me or anyone else, and come to your own conclusions.
Continued in next post...
What does this have to do with the NKJV? Well, the NKJV is the ONLY modern version of the Bible published today that does NOT use the higher-critical "Critical Text." All other translations that I am aware of use the Greek found in the "Critical Text" as their basis. Instead, NKJV uses the "Majority Text," which does not give unnatural weight to those hokey Egyption copies. The Majority Text represents a different way of collating the thousands of Greek copies we have now -- essentially following the methods of traditional textual criticism by eliminating "families" and giving equal weight to all of the witnesses -- as an alternative to the Critical Text. They both use the same collection of cpoies, it's just that the bloated influence given to the Egyptian copies in the method of the Critical Text is totally eliminated in the Majority Text. Given equal weighting to all texts individuall, given the vast numbers of Byzantine copies compared to those from Egyption sources, and given the remarkable agreement of the Byzantine witnesses, the result is that the influence of the Egyption copies is dwarfed, and thus the Majority Text essentially reflects the contents of the Byzantine sources -- just like the "Textus Receptus" first collected by Erasmus (though his text was produced from only a handful of Byzantine Texts).
Continued in next post...
All of this may soon be a moot point, however, as the next edition of the Nestle-Aland "Critical Text" (28th Edition) will follow an altogether different method than one can learn from Metzger, Robertson, Aland or Burgon. It follows a relatively newly devised "Geneological-Coherence Method" -- something which I personally am only just becoming acquainted with. This new Method totally eliminates the idea of "text families," and of using them as a basis for assigning authority to certain readings, and instead compares every known variant according to a variety of criteria, in order to determine their relationship and ultimately find what would statistically be the "initial copy". And this is the critical aspect of this new Method. Beginning with the 28th Edition of the Nestle-Aland Critical Text, we will no long have, even in the original languages, anything that could be called "The Original" text, or even a representation of it. This new method is limited to producing what they call an "Initial Text" -- which may be representative of a text existing in the Third of Fourth Centuries. A second critical aspect of this new Method is the reality of continuous updates to the Greek text. It is never fixed, nor can it be regarded as even theoretically fixed, but as continuously moving and shifting, dependent on the discovery of new texts, or other historical or linguistic facts that may impact the criteria used to analyze the body of collected texts. Bible versions descending from this Method will likewise be subject to continuous updating -- and we've already been warned by the CBT (the NIV Committee on Bible Translation) of more frequent updates to the NIV (which reveals how monumentally stupid it is to standardize a hymnal project on the NIV family of translations, assuming the hymnal is going to be around for more than a few years...).
Due to the immense amount of data, computers will perform the analysis on the texts, while the whole project awaits the massive manpower necessary to enter the data. This eliminates the role of the individual pastor in selecting an authoritative reading during his study -- the computer says what it is, and there is no arguing with the computer... But it will take some time to complete -- around the year 2030, is what I recall. But already this new method has resulted in some fairly startling changes to the underlying Greek text, and it is expected to impact many of the references used as proof texts in our catechism, not only for Baptism (Mark 16), but also Headship, Church and Ministry, and others. No one really knows what the specific results will be, nor how broad their impact will be, which explains both the ambivalence of the TEC toward any specific translation, along with the rapidly changing practices of the WELS with respect to womens roles.
If you want to know more, here is a provocative paper written by a Concordia Seminary Professor on the subject:Text and Authority: Theological and Hermeneutical Reflections on a Plastic Text. To be fair, I think that the author later said his paper was intended for consumption by a select group of his peers, not by the general public, and that he would have written it differently had he known that it would see broader distribution. It's been passed around. Alot. Some of his points and positions were written to deliberately "stir discussion" among his peers (who are all academics) -- but that makes them all the more worthy of discussion.
Continued in next post...
In the best construction, your WELS pastors aren't saying anything at all, because they are ignorant. If this is not the case, then there must be something far more sinister going on. If they are not merely ignorant and disinterested, then they are deliberately not telling the truth by choosing to say nothing at all. Perhaps they think they are protecting you. Perhaps there is some other benefit to hiding the truth. The reality is, very serious changes are afoot in Christianity -- especially when it can be said of these changes, "Who knows what the Bible is going to say in fifteen years? We'll just have to wait and see."
Maybe this was more than you wanted to know... I for one will stick with what I've learned, and pray that someone much more intelligent and capable than I am is both equipped and willing to fight this war. Whoever it is, he is likely to have very few allies.
Yes, the vacuum of leadership on this issue is simply mind boggling. When we first came to WELS in 1999, one of our immediate annoyances was their use of the NIV. We had already rejected it based on a number of factors, including its use of the "Critical Text" instead of the "Majority Text" as the source of the NT translation, the use of the Greek "Septuagint" instead of the Hebrew "Masoretic Text" as the source of the OT translation, in addition to the post-Modern ideology of "Dynamic Equivalence" as a basis for the entire translation. Even without these considerations, on their face, there are simply many more and better reasons to use translations from the King James family, including far better and more precise English and continuity with the Church usage over the centuries.
When we questioned him on WELS "rejection of the Historical Critical Method" while at the same time embracing the Critical Text (which comes from the same methodology), our pastor immediately quipped "Oh! King James Only types, eh?" and dismissed all of our concerns with the list of clichés he'd been fed at seminary and throughout his ~30-year career -- all of which we had heard before, as they are repeated ad nauseum all over the internet, and are taken up in various places with thoughtful responses of theologians and exegetes who share these concerns. When we pressed him further on certain points, he said that we'd have to take it up with the professors at the seminary, "They can answer your questions, they know what they are doing." When they don't know, their fallback is the seminary -- that's where everything they do know came from anyway.
The only leadership that will emerge on this issue, is the leadership that has already been appointed -- the TEC, for one, and other liberalizing voices from the seminary and colleges that support this new direction. I'd be surprised --pleasantly surprised -- if it happened any differently.
"Whoever wishes to be saved must, above all else, hold to the true Christian faith."
The Lutheran Hymnal, with a more historical text, uses the word "will" in place of "wishes". It says:
"Whoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic [i.e. universal, Christian] faith."
Now maybe this is a small thing, but for me, the word "wishes" implies that somehow man plays a role, while the word "will" implies to me that our salvation comes from outside of us.
I was particularly sensitive to this wording, because some of the objective justification persuasion will be heard saying:
"Everyone has been saved."
In my opinion, the word "saved" in the Athanasian Creed is harmonious with it's use in Scripture. The use of the word "saved" by some who define objective justification seems to be harmonious with neither.
What does that have to do with the new hymnal? Simply this. Considering how the words of the Athanasian Creed were changed from The Lutheran Hymnal to Christian Worship, what can we expect to see in the Athanasian Creed in the new hymnal, if it still is found in the newest version? With the 2011 NIV now bringing the concept of gender neutrality directly into worship, what's to keep new versions of the Confessions consistent with the truths they originally confessed?
That series of comments/posts was both scholarly and thoroughly educational (the two do not always overlap). Thank you for the work you put into helping all of us stay abreast of these issues.
"Maybe this was more than you wanted to know..."
No, I don't think so at all. It may even be worth its own post.